The deadline for an application is November 15, but the website says that CURM will help faculty members set up an academic year. Could you please let me know about the application process and the time period the mini-grant covers?
We will begin accepting online applications for the next academic year on August 15th each year, and they are due no later than November 15th. On the CURM website, under “Schedule” we have outlined how the CURM year will progress.
I and another professor are working with some undergraduates on research. Can we both apply or should only one of us apply?
Yes, you can both apply, but we usually do not award two mini-grants to the same institution during the same year. However, in several cases, two applicants from the same institution have been able to strengthen their application by combining their efforts into a single proposal either by having just one of the professors receiving a course reduction or negotiating with their institution so that CURM provides most of the funds to buy out one course for each professor and the institution supplies the remaining funds.
What is the CURM policy on indirect costs? Since the program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is our federally negotiated indirect cost rate agreement applicable? Does the inclusion of indirect cost affect our competitiveness on our proposal?
First, although a CURM mini-grant is between $12,000 – $25,000, only $6,250 of the amount is given to the awardee’s institution. The rest of the funds are disbursed directly from Brigham Young University (BYU) either to the students for their stipends or to the vendor for the professor’s and students’ travel and lodging. The $6,250 that is given to the awardee’s institution consists of $250 for supplies and a $6,000 award. The NSF grant that funds CURM only provides a maximum of $6,000 for the following items: faculty stipend, your institution’s indirect costs (F&A), FICA, etc. So, we have been dealing with this in one of two ways. One way is for the professor to be hired as an independent contractor with the $6,000 going directly to him/her. This makes paperwork somewhat simpler (although an EIN is required instead of a Social Security Number), but has the disadvantage that it will be recorded as taxable income for the professor. The second way is for the professor to be hired as a subcontractor. This requires the BYU Research Office to negotiate a contract with your institution’s research office. In this case, any indirect cost your institution requires must come from the $6,000. But the remaining funds must be used to fulfill the original commitment on the application form stating what the $6,000 will be used for (e.g., a one-course teaching reduction). As long as this condition is fulfilled, claiming indirect costs does not affect the competitiveness of the proposal.
Would my institution be obligated to provide any matching funds for the CURM mini-grant?
No. Your institution is not obligated to provide any matching funds for the CURM mini-grant. However, a proposal is often strengthened when the institution can offer something extra. For example, some applications have been able to get their institution to use the $6,000 stipend to provide a two-course reduction for the professor or allow the professor the standard one-course reduction while replacing another course with a seminar taught by the professor on the topic of the research project. Another item that some applicants have been able to get is a promise of funding from the institution to send the undergraduate students to another conference to present their research.
CURM covers the participant costs for airfare, transportation, housing, and some food for the Summer Workshop and the Student Research Conference. How will this be paid to the participants?
CURM will arrange and pay for all of these items upfront. We will make the airline and hotel reservations and have the funds to pay for these items deducted from the NSF grant through BYU’s Office of Research. So, the participants and their institutions will never see or handle these funds. This avoids the need for reimbursements, allows us better oversight of the grant funds when we have to report back to NSF, and we can get cheaper rates because of the volume of business we do.
How are student stipends paid?
Student stipends are paid directly to the students from the BYU Accounting Office in increments: $1,000 is paid in Sept., $1,000 in Jan., $500 after the Student Research Conference, and $500 after submission of the students’ written research report and survey. Taxes are not deducted, so students are required to complete a W-9 form and the information is sent to the IRS. Since stipend payments are sent in the Fall of the first year and then in Winter/Spring in the next year, the tax liability is spread over two years. The students will receive a 1099 tax form at the end of both years. Students may choose Direct Deposit as a payment option. W-9 and Direct Deposit forms are available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are students required to be mathematics majors – or may I include students with a statistics major, or students in other majors who are getting a math minor?
Because CURM is funded by DMS (Division of Mathematical Sciences) at NSF, we do require that undergraduate students be either a math or statistics major, so another major with a math minor would not suffice.
Are students required to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to participate? Does this apply for faculty as well?
Yes, students are required to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Faculty are not required to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
I previously applied for a CURM mini-grant and my application was not accepted. May I apply again?
Yes, we encourage applicants to reapply if they are not accepted the first time.
My application was accepted and I received the award letter, which indicated that I and my students must complete “responsible and ethical conduct of research” training. If my institution does not offer this training, where can we find these training modules?
If your institution does not offer training in this area, the University of Illinois has acquired an online tutorial for Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). The online tutorial can be found at https://nationalethicscenter.org. You and your students will need to “Create a New Account” and the system will issue you a login for the site. When a login is received, please complete all three modules. Once you and your students have completed either your institution’s training or the online training, please email a copy of the completion certificate/notice to us email@example.com so we can ensure that everyone participating in CURM has fulfilled this requirement of the NSF.